A few days ago I posted an article called 7 Steps for Parents: Should Your Child Have a Cell Phone? and I mentioned putting together a cell phone contract. I got a few emails asking what this would include. I actually think that teen contracts or contracts between parents and kids are really helpful. I typed up one that is similar to what I had when I was younger and got my first cell phone. Everyone’s contract will obviously be different because everyone has different plans and capabilities on their phones.
My parents and I discussed this entire contract and ‘negotiated’ what we both thought was fair. I think this was an important part of the process because I felt like I had a say. We made the rules together, and they told me they thought I was responsible enough to come up with my own rules (I actually came up with some of these myself–only to regret it later), but this made me feel heard and like I ‘owned’ my rules, they were not just given to me.
Vanessa’s Cell Phone Contract
Vanessa will be given a cell phone for her birthday and will be used with the discussed following rules:
_________All Contacts in the Phone Book must be approved by Mom or Dad
_________No Phone calls after 9pm weekdays, 10pm weekends unless they are to Mom and Dad, or pre-approved by us.
_________Our Plan allows maximum of 50 text messages a month.
_________No Cell Phone at any meal table or during family time (may ask permission if school related).
_________Web Surfing has been disabled.
_________If asked to turn off/stop playing/get off cell phone, must do so immediately.
_________When at home, will only use the regular phone instead of cell phone to make calls.
________When out with friends will always have cell phone with you and ‘on’ so mom and dad can reach you if needed.
If the following rules have not been met, we will have to implement the following discussed consequences:
________If you go over in texts, you must pay the difference (the phone company charges 10 cents per text)
________If you go over in minutes, you must pay the difference for that month, if it happens again, then hour usage will decrease (8pm weekdays, no cell phone on Sundays).
_________If asked more than twice to turn off/put down cell phone, or the phone is used during meal or family time, personal phone privileges will be removed for a day (only may be used to call mom and dad).
________This is a one-month trial period, if all rules are followed for thirty days, mom and dad will increase hours on weekends.
________This contract will be reevaluated every six months as Vanessa gets older to possible receive more texts, web surfing or extra money for ring tones etc.
I only realize this now, my parents had built into the contract (they are lawyers) incentives for me to follow the rules. There is nothing like a long list of rules to alienate you from your kid, but the last two parts of the contract say that if I follow the above rules well, I might get more privileges with the phone after 30 days and then again every 6 months. This was great incentive for me to keep the rules, because I knew if I did, I would have less to follow soon.
Recap: *Be sure to discuss the rules before the contract, *Build in incentives, *Have a one-month trial period so they appreciate the privilege of having a phone. *I like to actually sign and date my parent teen contracts, it makes it very official feeling.
Dream big, work hard and you will get there,
*This wonderfully gross cell phone picture is courtesy of Jokeroo